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I've worked at this job for over a year now, and I recently signed on for another year this past April. It's doing research that I really enjoy, and in the past I found the work environment to be fairly positive.

However this year has been brutal. It's only been 4-5 weeks of work, and it is as if my boss suddenly hates me. He's constantly raising his voice, telling me to do things (then changing his mind) and scolding me when I do them, comparing me to other students, and claiming I'm not dedicated, and that there are other students who want this job.

I'm honestly tired out of my mind and don't have any energy to work this job anymore. I come in an hour earlier than everyone else, and work through lunch, yet I'm still getting scolded. It's a very hostile environment, and I know I have so many other things I could and should be doing. I just feel terrible because it has only been 4-5 weeks (out of 16 for a normal summer position) but I know I can't keep it up.

I want to find a way to quit, without burning bridges. I'm just not sure what the best way to approach the situation is because I'm scared that if I do ask to resign he will become irate or question me for leaving. There are also 3 other students in my year and program, and I don't want my reasons to spread around the workplace. Overall I'm just very uncomfortable with the whole situation and really not sure how to approach it.

  • If you've indicated the environment as hostile, why did you want to save the bridges? You'll learn there are places on this earth you don't want to be and unfortunately companies sometimes end up on that list. – Mast Feb 29 '16 at 8:55
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I want to find a way to quit, without burning bridges.

You may not be able to. You already know you can't control your boss' response, and he can burn the bridge from his end if he wants.

But what you can do is leave. Write a polite resignation later, thank the organization (and boss, if you can stomach it) for the opportunity, do not disclose why you're leaving, work your notice period if you have one (if you can), and then just leave.

If you're asked why you're leaving by your boss or fellow employees, do not give in to the urge to explain; given the situation you describe, it's likely people will guess, but it's not in your interest to say. If you can, come up with a neutral, close-to-truthful explanation: for example, you need the time to study. You don't put this in your resignation letter, just keep it for any conversations you have to have about leaving.

You haven't mentioned alternatives to leaving, but if your boss isn't the head of the organization and there is a HR department, you may have other options than just leaving, as you otherwise like the job. This will almost certainly burn the bridge with your boss, but again, that might happen anyway, and it could save the job for you, if he's the sole issue. If there is a HR department they could be very interested in this. You don't mention where you are, but in some places, your boss would be treading dangerously close to bringing a constructive dismissal lawsuit down on the organization.

I'm scared that if I do ask to resign he will become irate or question me for leaving

I'm unaware of any jobs you have to ask permission to resign from. Just resign. If he becomes irate, remember that you can physically leave the location you are in at any time. You're already resigning, he's already angry, there's no job or relationship to save.

You may want to take any personal affects you keep at work home before you hand in your resignation letter, so you're not tempted to stay in the building if you need to go. It's hard to know exactly what's going on, but your boss sounds unpredictable, and you sound scared. If the situation starts to feel unsafe, please leave. Your safety is more important than any relationship.

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However this year has been brutal. It's only been 4-5 weeks of work, and it is as if my boss suddenly hates me.

Is this the same boss you had before, or a new boss?

He's constantly raising his voice, telling me to do things (then changing his mind) and scolding me when I do them, comparing me to other students, and claiming I'm not dedicated, and that there are other students who want this job.

Sometimes a boss may be jealous of an employee. People are chock full of issues.

I'm honestly tired out of my mind and don't have any energy to work this job anymore. I come in an hour earlier than everyone else, and work through lunch, yet I'm still getting scolded. It's a very hostile environment, and I know I have so many other things I could and should be doing. I just feel terrible because it has only been 4-5 weeks (out of 16 for a normal summer position) but I know I can't keep it up.

Two options:

  1. Bite the bullet, say that your Boss is a Human Being, not God, The Creator of the Universe (or whoever you believe in), and someday you will be HIS boss
  2. Find a way to resign, especially if there are better opportunities

I want to find a way to quit, without burning bridges. I'm just not sure what the best way to approach the situation is because I'm scared that if I do ask to resign he will become irate or question me for leaving.

How much angrier can he get? Will he show up at your home with a spreadsheet?

There are also 3 other students in my year and program, and I don't want my reasons to spread around the workplace. Overall I'm just very uncomfortable with the whole situation and really not sure how to approach it.

Your reasons? But you did nothing wrong.

Burning Bridges

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